Tag Archives: center for wooden boats

2010 Week 4 in Review

Valve-grinding: a team effort

This week, I finished cleaning all the valves for the Thea Foss. Engineer Ron ground the valves and observed that “the first one is fun and the rest of the 24 are boring,” which I definitely agree with. Then Vince came out of retirement and over the mountains to grind the seats, and we had a nice team to get the job done efficiently.

A visit to the Cape Cross

Later this week, I visited the crew of the Enterprise-powered fish tender Cape Cross. The engine’s running well and best of all, the boat is gainfully employed.

Dry-suit repairs

After last week‘s brush with carotid sinus reflux, diver Duane helped me replace the neck seal in my dry suit. Apparently adding a latex neck seal to a neoprene suit is pretty common, and it’s an easy process. First, I coated the sealing area with AquaSeal and let it cure, then I put another coat on to adhere the latex. Then I trimmed it and put one more bead of AquaSeal on edges, and the suit was ready to go.

Giving the CWB a lift

On Saturday, I worked with Sterling Marine Services Llc to level out some of the floating docks at the Center for Wooden Boats by installing some new barrels. Once we got we got a system down, it went really fast. Sterling Marine Services Llc has posted more about it in their brand-new blog here.

Repairs and updates on the Island Champion

I visited the Island Champion this week to isolate the overboard through-hull fixture from the engine. This is an area of excessive stray voltage, which induces electrolysis in the surrounding planks and makes them rot out a lot faster – according to our resources, it’s like nail sickness from increased alkalinity.

I installed piece of hose to separate the engine from the through-hull fitting, which disrupts (in theory) the electrical current running between them:

This should hopefully stop the electrolysis and save the hull timber a little longer.

Also, boat buyers take note: the Island Champion is not for sale anymore.

To bond or not to bond

This brings up the age old-argument: “to bond or not to bond.”

To bond, or not to bond: that is the question:
Whether less noble metals should suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous corrosion,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And insulate them. To dielectric: to isolate;
No more; and by isolate to say we end
The corrosion and the thousand natural shocks
That hulls are heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To dielectric, to isolate;

On the subject of galvanic corrosion: the way I read it, impressed current is best but anodes are easier and more common. If using anodes, quantity and placement are very important to get right and bonding or isolating is addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Some fittings below the waterline, if isolated, can take a long time to degrade, while others will need to be wired to the anode using a resistance-free electrical circuit with heavy-gauge wire, good connections, and keeping it out of the bilge water. When working with mili-volts, a loose connection is no connection: the mili-volt will not jump a gap. I think it is this sloppy wiring that causes bias in our maritime tradesmen.

More important than the bonding and anoding, boats and equipment should be inspected and repaired regularly – and repairs should be made before small problems are catastrophic. It pains me to hear folks argue about bonding while the boat is sinking. While limiting galvanic activity is important – keep it in perspective!

Update on the Maris Pearl

Meanwhile on the Maris Pearl, we’re down to just looking for the shaft that attaches to the piston in the reversing mechanism and the camshaft gear.

Who’s got one? Any drawings? Anything? Help?

Work begins on the Arthur Foss

The Northwest Seaport started their “Stop the Leaks” project on the Arthur Foss; it sounds like the first step was to take off the big rubber fender on the bow. They took a lot of pictures of it – and better yet, wrote a blog about it! Check it out here!

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2009 Week 27 in Review

This week, we put the Arthur Foss all back together. All the parts are cleaned and many painted, the head is down, the piston is in, and the rod bearing is in, and I tightened everything down and painted the cylinder and deck plates just in time for class on Saturday.  But first:

More Enterprises

Doug reminded us via email to include the Alaska Ferries Malaspina and Columbia to the list of Enterprise-powered boats. Will do, Doug – does anyone know what model they are? The Golden Bear is powered by two big R5-V16 diesels – do the ferries have that same model?

New owners for the Kaluah Maru?

I’ve heard a rumor that the Kaluah Maru, a boat in Hawaii with two Superiors, has new owners. Anyone hear anything concrete? OTM Inc is investigating.

The Dunlin moves to Seattle

I got an email from Keith in which he said that the Dunlin has moved to Seattle. I can’t wait to meet the new owner and see the boat!

Diesel Engine Theory Session Five!

With all the parts ready and all the tools laid out, the class attacked the engine early Saturday morning. We wanted to get a good start on the work left – bumping the bearings, timing the valves and injectors, and getting it ready to run –since Saturday also started the 34th Annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival! Since 2005, OTM Inc has been a part of the show by running the Arthur‘s engine throughout the festival as a demonstration. The public loves it, and this year the students were going to help us keep it going.

the final session of the 2009 diesel engine theory workshop in the Arthur Foss

While the engineers were in the engine room, chef Kim was in the smoking hot galley. She baked bread all morning, turning the galley into a roasting pit of despair, but the bread was very tasty. Here’s the instructions and recipe, tailored for baking on the Arthur Foss:

At 7 or 8 am, turn on the stove; first, remove the firebox cover and vacuum or scrape the bits of carbon out of the firebox and the diesel cup. Next, open the valve from the day tank, open the valve to the meter, open the valve on the meter, and turn the meter up to full. Look down into the firebox; when you see a little diesel trickle out of the hole, light it with the blow torch that’s kept in the galley drawer. You’ll probably have to fire it for a while with the torch to get it alight.

Once it’s on, let it get hot and smoky and fiery, then turn on the fan. Open the fan damper until it doesn’t smoke any more – but not too much, or the fire will start to flicker like a strobe. Adjust it until you find the happy medium between strobe and smoke, and continue to check it for the next several hours.

Have some coffee, run the generator, clean the counter, have some more coffee. At 10 or 11, when stove is nearing 300°, dissolve 2tsp yeast in 2 cups warm water, then add:

5 ½ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 to 2 tsp salt

Mix, not knead, all this together and fold dough into a rounded lump. Cover lightly with cloth and put in a warm, not hot, place. The dish rack over the sink is perfect, and keeps it out of the way. Let rise to double its size.

Divide dough in half, form into two lumps, and place in the big glass pan. Cover lightly and let rise to double its size and the oven is between 350° and 400°.

Place in center of oven and bake 10-15 min, or until top is VERY golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven, wait no more and no less than five minutes before removing from pan. Eat it hot with butter.

bread baked in the Arthur Foss's diesel oven

The original recipe is featured in Lin Pardey’s awesome seacook’s book: The Care and Feeding of the Offshore Crew. Kim sliced most of this loaf and left it out on the counter with butter, and it was gone within an hour.

Back to the engine. We had everything buttoned up by one and we all held our breaths as we blew down the engine, then started it up. It started right up – but the new head gasket didn’t fully seat and a little air hissed out between the head and the cylinder on every compression stroke. We shut it down quick because it was making sounds like a dying goose.

After we cleaned up, the students had the next two hours to check out the Wooden Boat Festival and all the great old boats at South Lake Union for the weekend. Sadly, no other boats with heavy-duty diesels came, but it was still a great show. Meanwhile, tons of kids mobbed the boat for Pirate Story Hour:

pirate story hour on the arthur foss

At four, we all headed over to Buca di Beppo for a very tasty celebration dinner.

At six, the show closed and the class ended. Everyone filled out course evaluations at the restaurant, and they gave us rave reviews. Here’s a sample:

I think the program was coo. I really liked it and learned a lot. It would be better if we had a couple of days in the week instead of one. MoB MoB MoB L*fe L*fe L*fe.”

We think that’s a complement.

I know that I had a good time this session. It’s too bad that the head gasket didn’t fully seat, but it wasn’t anyone’s fault; the engine is old and sometimes these things happen. Despite not running the engine all afternoon Saturday, I would still say that this was one of the best classes and we addressed many issues with the engine, so the class was definitely a success.

dirty hands on the arthur foss

Next year, we’ll do Cylinder One.

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2009 Week 23 in Review

Still scraping bearings

OTM Inc spent most of this week scraping and fitting rod bearings for the Indian Grave Drainage Pumphouse‘s Fairbanks-Morse diesels, and making some fine adjustments to the main bearings. I did this with much relief, after getting satisfactory results when testing the main bearings.

Report on the MV Tuhoe

Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s intrepid investigative reporter Jacoba took a field trip to see the Atlas boat MV Tuhoe in Kaiapoi, New Zealand. This neat old boat (the only Atlas boat we know of in the Southern Hemisphere) is an old cargo auxiliary schooner, powered by twin 6EM327 Atlas-Imperial diesel engines.

Atlas-Imperial diesel engine on the MV Tuhoe

Interestingly, the association that owns her (the MV Tuhoe Preservation Society) has a third identical engine that they use for parts. It sounds like they’ve put a lot of love into the boat and they have a lot of community support. Jacoba wrote up a great article about the boat that talks more about that:

The twin Atlas-Imperial engines of the M.V. Tuhoe rattle in well-tuned percussion as John Thompson, one of the ship’s chief engineers, eases on the throttle. The engine room is tidy, and the fixtures are color-coded with bright, glossy layers of paint to help newly-trained volunteers.

Read the full article

Arthur Foss Cylinder Four Overhaul begins!

I flew back to Seattle on Thursday night, just in time for the Diesel Engine Theory workshop on the Arthur Foss. OTM Inc runs this in partnership with Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats at South Lake Union. We’ve been planning this session – overhauling cylinder four – for years, and getting ready for the class was stressful since I was in Illinois most of the month. I really wanted everything to go well despite only preparing over the phone, but I shouldn’t have worried too much.

The first session went very well. We had eight participants (a full boat!), including four guys from The Anchor Program (known as TAP) who’ve been doing a bunch of work on the Arthur. After coffee and introductions, we took a tour of the boat, oiled and greased everything, and ran the engine and both generators for a while. I got a lot of good questions and everyone was really interested in the boat and the engine and diesel engines in general.

Exercising the Arthur Foss's AC generator

Part of any workshop we do with Northwest Seaport is the Galley Program, where we use the boat’s galley and especially the diesel stove to make lunches for everyone. Chef Lia prepared the best and possibly the most tacos ever cooked in the Arthur‘s muy caliantá galley:

After lunch, Dan gave his Diesel Engine Theory lecture, which was even better than last time. He brought along a lot of parts to illustrate his points, along with dire warnings to not damage the injector tips!

Crystal examines an injector tip

After the lecture, it was time for the big moment: taking the engine apart and fixing it. I’d gone and gotten a lot of tools while preparing for the class, so I divided the students into two groups. I set one group to taking all the jewelry off the head, and the other group to taking the access panels off the bottom of the engine and getting ready to take the rod off the crankshaft.

George takes apart the cooling system

Now, I bet a bunch of you reading this are thinking “holy cow, he just let a bunch of students start taking stuff apart and he wasn’t watching them like a vulture watches a dying horse?” Well, heavy-duties like the Arthur‘s Washington come all apart pretty easily with socket wrenches and screwdrivers, but there’s a lot of hardware that has to be taken off. All the students were really doing was turning wrenches, but if you’ve never taken apart an engine before, you learn tons from just turning the wrench and seeing how it’s all put together.

By the end of the day, we had cylinder four nearly all stripped down. We got stuck on one head nut just as five o’ clock rolled around, so we left it like that for the night. I’ll have a lot more to report about the class next week, so stay tuned!

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2009 Week 10 in Review

Work starts on the Maris Pearl

I started working on the Maris Pearl this week, starting at the top of Jay’s checklist. I serviced two of the generators; changed the oil filters, and looked at the belts and impellers. This is all really basic maintenance – just like what you get when you go to Grease Monkey, but it’s important to keep on top of. Next up will be working on the bilge pumps and oily water separators.

Wawona moves

The Northwest Seaport moved its old lumber schooner Wawona on Wednesday. I won’t go into all the emotions and relationships that I’ve had with the Wawona over the years, but its departure from South Lake Union was a very moving event.

The city, which was the driving factor behind the move, hired Global Dive & Salvage to stabilize it for the move, and they in turn subcontracted with Western Towboat to do the actual pulling to Lake Union Dry-Dock Company, where the boat will be taken apart. There’s been a lot of speculation in the old boat community about whether or not the boat is stuck in the mud (it’s not) or will break up during a tow, and a lot of blah blah blah from people who don’t know what they’re talking about (read the comments on these articles for a taste).

Anyway, after a lot of delays, the move was finally scheduled for 8 am on Wednesday. There was a press conference (with coffee) at 7:30 AM, where the Seaport’s press guy and president spoke for all the news cameras in Seattle. The Western tugs Wasp and Flyer showed up right at 8, stuck a hook-line right into the chain bobstay, and pulled the boat out, just like that. Ric, as usual, made the process look easy, and the Wawona went out into the waterway just like did hundreds of times before it became a museum boat.

I won’t say that I was unhappy to see the boat go, but I do want to defend myself from all the people pointing their fingers and saying that I wanted it to go to the scrapper because I hated it, and I just didn’t understand that they loved the boat.

Well, a boat that I did love went to the scrapper, and old tug in Kingston, New York called the K Whittlesey. It was powered by an old Rathbun-Jones diesel – the last in the country. I don’t know much about these engines except that they were later bought out by Ingersoll-Rand, but the K Whittlesey‘s was giant – way bigger than the Arthur Foss‘s Washingtion on the same size tug, with at least a 20-inch bore.

Just like the Wawona, the K Whittlesey became a local eyesore. A town eccentric raised it from the canal with the usual idea that “if you raise it, they will come,” and then got mad at the world for not following through with the second part of the plan – that is, when everyone gives him lots and lots of money for an old boat museum. There’s a news article on Zwire that talks more about the owners’ dream of a floating tugboat museum.

I was really sad to hear that the K Whittlesey was finally scrapped. I remind myself, though, that during its few years tied up in Kingston, a bunch of people got to see it. From the news conference, the Northwest Seaport seems to feel the same way about the Wawona: it’s sad that she’s gone, but wasn’t she great during those years that people got to see her?

CWB benefit auction

Saturday was this year’s auction benefiting the Center for Wooden Boats, and OTM Inc attended in style. It was a great party – they had the Armory all dressed up with spinnakers hung from the overhead, and a fair number of people dressed up in the Gilligan’s Island theme. We sat at the Northwest Seaport table and had a good time.

Center for Wooden Boats annual auction

What I love about the CWB auction is how many of the boat people donate items that only other boat people would love. Deputy director Jake donated his yearly Lake Union tugboat trips, when he uses the Mighty Isswat to pull floats around the lake for romantic dinner cruises and photography. Jensen Boatworks also donated a haul-out (painting and washing not included), and all the local big sailboats donated a cruise or two. There was also artwork and canoe vacations and wine-tasting – something for everyone. It was good to see the community come together like that, especially considering how nervous everyone is about money these days.

Drink like a sailor party

Later Saturday, we shanghaied a pile of sailors from the CWB auction and immediately put them to work drinking heavily at the “Drink Like a Sailor” party at Jenny and Kate’s. The party was a great time, and afterwards we oozed back to the boat like jellyfish stuck on the beach at low tide.

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2008 Week 39 in Review

Back to business-as-usual

This week, I’ve gotten back in the shop. I worked on cleaning up an engine control station that I picked up recently. It’s a neat find, perfect for a direct-reversing twin-screw boat. After I finish cleaning it up, I’ll post pictures and put it up on eBay – hopefully by next week.

I also worked on the Duwamish a bit – I checked the cylinder height with a standard gasket and it is too low. The piston goes up past the liner slightly, so next week I’ll put a thicker gasket under it. I’ve got to get this project wrapped up soon, though.

I also cleaned up the shop a bit, and caught up on news from the shop partners. Brian and his shipwright partners are all settled in, John moved out, Grant is moving into John’s old space, and we’re going to be looking for another shop partner soon. My space is right in the center of the shop, so I spend quite a lot of time BSing with everyone who works there. I call this an investment, rather than a waste of time. We may not talk about anything important, but this business requires a lot of social interaction. When I have a question, I can get answer much faster if I am all caught up on the news.

I also worked on taxes and other “business” things. Lame. Stuff like this takes the fun out of running a small business.

Sakarissa moves

We received the following email from Jerry, who works with the Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum, which is thinking about buying the Sakarissa (a WWII “Yard Tug,” sister ship to the Maris Pearl and the Red Cloud):

YTB-269 was built in Tacoma and commissioned 12 April 1944. She served in the Pacific assisting in the operation and transport of ABSD-1 (advance base sectional dry-dock). These large docks were capable of lifting a battleship and were used to repair ships in Eniwetok and Guam during and after the war. The ship returned home to San Francisco on August 22, 1946. She was used for assist duty for the USN until 1974 and was then transferred to MARAD at Suisan Bay tending to the needs of the mothball fleet there. The Sakarissa will join the growing fleet of historic vessels in the Portland/Vancouver WA area. She will become an educational resource attesting to the era when maritime services played a major role in the economy of the Northwest and of the labor that built ships and those few still working to preserve that history.

Jerry also sent a bunch of pictures of the tug, including this engine room shot:

Enterprise DMQ-8 diesel engine powering the ex-Navy tug SAKARISSA

This is the same engine built on the same contract as the Red Cloud and the Maris Pearl, but unlike those two it doesn’t have the clear camshaft view ports on the starboard side. Interesting.

Thanks for the update and the photos, Jerry – I hope that I can make it to the Sakarissa when I’m down in Oregon next month.

Footage from the Quail

Dirk and his friend were treated to a demonstration of the tugboat Quail‘s Atlas-Imperial diesel. Here’s a video of starting her up:

Thanks, Dirk!

What is “original?”

When you’re taking care of engines for which spare parts haven’t been manufactured for 50 years, things tend to get changed around a lot. While I try to stick to the original manufactures’ parts and process, I have had to stray sometimes. If I can’t keep the engine “original”, then the next most important thing is to document the changes that do happen. I’ve been keeping track of the changes I’ve made, but I need to start making better records of the process. I’m going to start a list of variances to the OEM (Original Engine Manufacturer) designs here and on the website. Over time, I hope to document all of the changes I’ve made – and all of the changes that other people have made and told me about.

Here’s a few to start off with:

On the Arthur Foss‘s Washington:

  • the fuel pressure regulator is an Atlas-Imperial fuel pressure regulator
  • numbers two through six cylinder heads are a newer style with two studs and a collar to hold the valve cages, instead of one big castellated nut around the cage
  • the new set of tappet guides have a zerk fitting or 1/8-inch pipe tapped hole in each

On the Catalyst‘s Washington:

  • the injector tips, while Washington-style on the outside, are Atlas-Imperial-style on the inside
  • the fuel pressure regulator has an atlas imperial seat and stem – inferior to the reversible Washington design
  • the new valves are one-piece (this is forgivable)
  • the valve cages have new noses and are not one piece any more
  • the guides are off the shelf (from MAN or something)
  • the rod bearing nuts are nylock and not “large profile”
  • the clutch guide pins are two piece
  • the pneumatic shifting has been replaced with hydraulic

On the Westward‘s Atlas-Imperial:

  • no Manzell

On the Thea Foss‘s Atlas-Imperials:

  • much of the engine room controls have been replaced or altered to allow better remote operation

On the Briana Marin‘s Enterprise:

  • the thrust bearing and carrying portion of the bed plate has been removed to make room for the gear

That’s it for now. Mechanics, owners, enthusiasts: do you know of any other changes to any other heavy-duty boat? Comment here and we’ll start putting together this record.

Autumn Programs at Northwest Seaport

Old Tacoma Marine Inc has a very good relationship with the Northwest Seaport and I try to help them out when I can. I’m of course most interested in the programs involving the Arthur Foss. I teach all the engine classes held aboard, and last year I not only directed (instigated) the Classic Workboat Show, but I was also the largest sponsor of time and money. Autumn is planning season for Northwest Seaport, so I’ve gotten more involved again by helping them plan next year’s programming and raise funds to make it all happen.

As a start, I went the Lake Union Park Working Group meeting, held every other Friday. All the groups with a stake at South Lake Union send representatives to discuss everything going on, from individual projects to giant joint programs. A major item on the agenda this week was planning joint programs for 2009, but we ended up pushing that back to the next meeting to give all the groups a little more time to recover from the summer. I’m going to meet with Northwest Seaport before that next meeting to commit to expanding the programming schedule just a little more, like we’ve done for the past few years.

I have a few programs that I try to put on every year with the Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats: Engineer for a Day, Diesel Engine Theory, and the new Tugboat night. These are each engine-centric, mostly on the Arthur, but Engineer for a Day uses all four boats on the wharf (I wrote about it way way back in February). The biggest (and most expensive) single class is Diesel Engine Theory, which is our take-it-apart-and-fix-it class that we’re using to restore the Arthur‘s big Washington:

Diesel Engine Theory 2006 aboard the tugboat Arthur Foss

We’re planning out next year’s programs and finishing this year’s, and finding (as usual) that the main need for each class is participants and funding. For this year’s Diesel Engine Theory class (the only remaining 2008 program), we’ve already got two or three people signed up, and Northwest Seaport is already a third of the way towards raising the total cost of the program (thanks to a 4Culture Special Projects grant), but we really need to fill the class and get the other two-thirds of the money in hand before we start this year’s work.

Northwest Seaport’s staff and board are very busy, so I usually take on a lot of the behind-the-scenes program management. This includes advertising the class and fundraising, on top of the mechanic stuff I need to do to get ready (we really need to order rings soon). This work is essential, since without the organizing, advertising, fundraising, and paper trail, we are spinning our wheels as opposed to building something solid and sustainable that transcends the boat itself.

This gets back to one of my major philosophies. To lift up a boat (or a maritime organization) you need something bigger than that boat (or maritime organization). I think that the best “something bigger” is education. Engine room education is important (the YMTA can tell you why better than I can) and the Arthur Foss just happens to be the best platform for this type of training. She’s a really neat boat, owned by a museum that’s dedicated to keeping her around to teach the public about boats, and she’s moored in the middle of Seattle. The classes and programs we run aboard her for the benefit of the general public can lift the Arthur Foss up and make something more of her than just an old boat.

Of course, last year a program literally lifted the Arthur Foss right out of the water:

the tugboat Arthur Foss in dry-dock, October 2007

That was a great feeling.

Getting back to the upcoming Diesel Engine Theory course, we need behind-the-scenes funding to get it off the ground. If you can help out, contact me now.

The wish list as it stands for the upcoming Arthur Foss programming includes:

  • cash
  • diesel fuel and lubricating oils
  • program participants
  • time on a dry dock
  • (1) 18-to-one torque multiplier
  • volunteers to do behind the scenes work (advertising, fundraising, setup, etc) – sign up for one or more positions now!

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2008 Week Twelve in Review

An Update on the Maris Pearl

This week I cleaned up and organized the Maris Pearl’s tools and spare parts:

“Spare

Jay recently bought a new storage container and had me lead the move from the old container to the new. Changing storage areas like this is a good time to inventory and organize the stuff you’re keeping with your boat and make sure that you’re holding onto the right things. Every time I do this for a client I find tons of parts that don’t fit the engine they are intended for. Since holding onto the wrong parts is a waste of space and effort, I try to arrange trades or sales of the wrong parts and get the right parts instead.

The Maris Pearl has a Q Enterprise, but many of its “spare parts” that Jay has been storing are for a G or R Enterprise. I’m working on trading them in to Striegel Supply for store credit, but if anyone reading needs parts for a G or R Enterprise, or has parts for a Q Enterprise, maybe we can arrange something.

Despite the clutter, Jay has some really neat spare parts, including a brand new cylinder head still in its original factory crate:

“Spare

Classic Workboat Show 2008

On Saturday, OTM Inc met with representatives from the Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats about holding another Classic Workboat Show. After some discussion, we decided that it was too soon to hold another show featuring tugboats, but holding a Classic Fishboat Show is doable for this fall.

The Classic Fishboat Show this fall will be great, but Old Tacoma Marine Inc won’t be as heavily involved. The 2009 Classic Workboat Show, though, will be epic, with even more heavy-duties, more events, and hopefully a big crane barge demonstration. We’re already looking for sponsors and donors, so give us an email if you’re interested or know someone who’s interested.

For those of you who missed the party, the first-ever Classic Workboat Show was last October. It was by far the best boat show I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to a lot of boat shows. I may be biased, though, as OTM Inc was a major sponsor of the show and I helped put a lot of it together with Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats. The best thing about the show was getting together six of the eight remaining boats powered by Washington Iron Works Diesel Engines all lined up at the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park. The restored tugboat Donald R, the research boat turned charter boat Catalyst, the monkey boat David B, the tugboat Ruby XIV, and the hard-working Western Towboat tug Fearless (formerly the Ruby II and the Discovery) joined the museum tugboat Arthur Foss for one awesome lineup of Washington power:

Visiting Workboats at the Historic Ships Wharf during the Classic Workboat Show; from left to right VIRGINIA V, ARTHUR FOSS, DONALD R, FEARLESS, CATALYST, DAVID B, RUBY XIV, LORNA FOSS, NEWT; photo courtesy Northwest Seaport and Wayne Palsson

We also had the tugs Lorna Foss and Newt on “Atlas Row,” and the Joe, Teal, Propeller, and a couple other boats in the non-heavy-duty section (but we thought they were great anyway). A Sea Scout troop did a scuttlebutt demonstration on the wharf and we held line-toss and bollard-lasso competitions for all ages:

Bollard Lasso on the Historic Ships Wharf during the Classic Workboat Show; photo courtesy Northwest Seaport and Wayne Palsson

To complete the festive atmosphere, Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers set up a booth selling their famous blackened salmon burgers and the jazz trio Bar Tabac played old-timey music on the docks and the boats. We even set up a pub, sponsored by Pacific Maritime Brewery.

The best moment was at five o’clock, closing time for the show. All the workboats sounded their horns, whistles, sirens, and bells at once. It was totally unplanned except for me telling everyone to blow their noisemakers at five, and it became this amazing workboat symphony. I can’t even describe how awesome it is, you’ll just have to listen to it yourself. It was an amazing day and I think it will be tough to beat. The fishboat show this fall will be great, but I think that the 2009 Classic Workboat Show will be even better. I hope to see everyone there.

If anyone reading can help with the 2009 Classic Workboat Show, we need sponsors, visiting workboats, volunteers, and cash (and see if your employer has a program for matching funds, since it’s a great opportunity for sponsors to get their names out there). Donations can be earmarked for the show or for other programs. Email me or Northwest Seaport to help.

A Unique Two-Cycle Atlas-Imperial

Finally, this week Chris from Utah sent pictures of the only two-cycle single-cylinder Atlas-Imperial diesel engine I have ever heard of. If anyone reading this knows of another, please let me know.

We borrowed the two-cycle Atlas-Imperial manual from Dan and scanned it for you to read. I read through it as well, and it seems like Atlas stole the idea straight from Fairbanks-Morse.

What do you think? Read it and let us know on the Discussion Board.

More Scans Coming Soon

Speaking of scanning original diesel manuals, Old Tacoma Marine Inc scanned a whole bunch of original heavy-duty manuals and catalogs this week to post on the website as a resource to enthusiasts, operators, and history geeks. We’re still getting them formatted for the web, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, what manuals do you want to see scanned and posted on the web? Make a request and we’ll track it down and get it up–as long it isn’t about lawnmower or washing machine engines. Heavy-duties only.

Tours for Guy

Guy [formerly] from Kodiak, who sent us the great photographs and information about the Kodiak Maritime Museum’s Washington Iron Works engine, visited Seattle on Saturday and called to ask if he could see some old engines. We were happy to help – we sent him to the Northwest Marine Propulsion Museum to see their Washington and to Northwest Seaport to see the Arthur Foss’s Washington. It’s too bad that he didn’t get to see them run, but he’ll just have to visit again during a demonstration.

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Filed under atlas-imperial, enterprise, museums, programs, tugboats, washington iron works, week in review

2008 Week Seven in Review

This has been a busy week for Old Tacoma Marine Inc. In addition to our usual winter maintenance load, the museum program schedule is picking up and we’re getting a lot of interest in old diesels following our increased web presence.

First, a variety of engine and vessel news:

Maris Pearl Updates
Jay, Charlie, and I started the week by moving the Maris Pearl from Lake Union Dry Dock back to Shilshole Marina. It was a pretty uneventful trip.

OTM Inc checked in with Alaska Copper and Brass again about the cooler for the tug’s Enterprise diesel. Wayne reported no progress, so I threatened to go down there and roll the tubes myself. Next Monday, I think I’ll show up at their plant with my work boots and hard hat.

I also talked with Rick Hamborg, new owner of the Red Cloud, about the extra control head that I’d like to purchase for the Maris Pearl. I think we might be able to reach a deal soon.

Arthur Foss’s Bearing

OTM Inc picked up the throw-out bearing for the Washington diesel in the Arthur Foss:

tugboat ARTHUR FOSS's throw-out bearing, re-babbitted and ready for installation

Everett Engineering did a great job, although Dan Martin overrode my request for more fore-and-aft thrust clearance so that the tight fit will hold oil better. I’m afraid that it will be much harder to center the bearing every time the propeller shaft is engaged. The clutch on the Arthur Foss uses a set of links that flop over-center in a way that maintains pressure on the clutch without force from the throw-out bearing. When the throw-out bearing is backed off a little, there is no thrust pressure at all. The centering is sometimes hard, as the big wheel that moves the bearing is touchy. We’ll probably want to engineer a clamp or holder of some type to maintain the bearing position while underway. The collar and bearing were installed on Thursday, but the links need to be cleaned. They’ll be installed early next week.

David B Propeller Work
I talked with Jeffrey on the David B, which is hauled-out in preparation for propeller work. They also want to replace the stern bearing due to the 1/4 inch clearance recorded, but the rudder is in the way of the bearing housing. It looks like Jeffrey will need to remove the short intermediate shaft in order to remove the bearing housing, but the tail shaft will be even harder to remove. I’m wondering if they’ll replace the bearing without cleaning the shaft lining. Jeffrey’s frustration makes me think so.

Update on the Catalyst’s Cylinder Heads
The Catalyst’s owners have reached an agreement with Empire Motors to purchase the three new cylinder heads (previously mentioned here) as well as the patterns. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and I hope they work. I’m also really, really excited to see the patterns. I’ll post lots of pictures when they get here.

Fairbanks-Morse Parts
Steve from Striegel Supply is looking for some Fairbanks-Morse parts for a blower on a 16”-bore engine. I don’t know who would have these parts—does anyone reading this have any ideas? Leave a comment – or better yet, post on our discussion board!

A Fairbanks-Morse in Maryland
I talked with John in Maryland this week. He has a Fairbanks-Morse FM–A—6 engine, like the one on the John N Cobb. He’ll be sending us photographs and information soon. He’s also trying to locate spare parts just in case; I recommended Hatch and Kirk overhaul the injectors and pumps for him.

An Atlas-Imperial in Astoria
OTM Inc received an email from the Columbia River Maritime Museum in response to a letter we sent informing the museum of some small problems with their Atlas-Imperial on display. They don’t want to work on the engine right now (especially since it’s on display in the main lobby – though I think that working on it right there would be very interesting for visitors), but they do want a list of what to do and how to do it for future planning. I’ll come up with a detailed list and maybe make a copy of one of our manuals to hand-deliver in March.

An Enterprise in Astoria
I received an email from John Gillon of Portland, Oregon:

I am a volunteer with the amphibious forces memorial museum. Last October we sailed the Sakarissa from San Francisco to Portland Or. She is moored on the Columbia River next to our Landing Craft Infantry 713.

I was looking on your web site and we have a Enterprise engine on the Sakarissa and it is a beautiful engine. You can visit our web site and see more, or contact them for some good pictures of the engine.

I enjoyed your web site,

John

The Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum has hidden the pictures of its Enterprise too well for me to find, so I’ll have to see if I can visit the Sakarissa while I’m Astoria for the Columbia River Maritime Museum errand:

the SAKARISSA at dock

The Ballard Maritime Academy Engineer for a Day Program

Preparing for a course like this is a hectic process, as the boats always require some head-scratching and jury-rigging to get them running after a long idle period. The biggest puzzle we faced this time was getting enough air pressure to start the fireboat Duwamish’s diesel-electric system. The fireboat’s air compressors need a little work; one of them really doesn’t pump air at all, and the other one’s efficiency is suffering. It takes a long time for it to fill the tanks up to the minimum level needed to turn the main over, so for past Engineer for a Day programs we’ve run an air hose from the Arthur Foss to the fireboat to fill up the tanks.

This past autumn, though, we moved the boats on the Historic Ships Wharf around so that the Arthur and the Duwamish are separated by a big old Lightship (number 83). If we use a long enough hose to stretch up and over the lightship and down into the fireboat, it doesn’t effectively fill up the tanks. Grant and I spend most of Thursday running the air compressor on auxiliary generator, wondering if we’d get enough pressure to turn on the main. We thought about renting an air compressor, but couldn’t find a large enough one on short-notice.

Finally, late in the day, the Duwamish’s own air compressor filled up the tanks to the needed psi and Grant was able to start up the number one main generator:

We ran it and the generator for a while after that to ensure that we had enough air built up to start the engine several times, since that’s a key part of the Engineer for a Day program.

While Grant was working on the Duwamish, cleaning and oiling and turning over the three big Bessemer generators, I was doing some work on the Arthur Foss. We’d removed the base doors during the autumn 2007 Diesel Engine Theory course (pictures at Northwest Seaport’s Flickr account), and I needed to re-seal them using my own patented “goo” method. Five of these doors are the original aluminum with “Washington Iron Works” cast into them, but one is a replacement made of plywood. Northwest Seaport’s museum specialist is hoping to replace this replacement door with a piece of thick plexiglass so that we can see into the engine while it’s running, but they weren’t able to get it purchased and cut in time for this class. They’re aiming to get it installed in time for the summer tour season, though. I doubt that they’ll be able to see much through all the oil that’ll get splashed against the door while the engine is operating, but it’s a neat idea and no harm in implementing it (at least until I have a new door cast in aluminum).

The Virginia V at least was ready to go — though this is only because we don’t start up her steam plant during the Engineer for a Day program (it would double the cost of the class). Her power plant is currently disassembled for winter maintenance, but that actually makes it even more interesting to observe.

After all that preparation, the Engineer for a Day program went great. John Foster, the instructor for the Ballard Maritime Academy, brought 16 kids down for one of the program’s annual field trips. He spends several classes before the field trip teaching the kids about marine engineering and engine theory so that they have a good understanding of it in their heads before they step aboard. When we have them actually start up an engine – either the Arthur’s Washington or the Duwamish’s Bessemers – they suddenly understand what the diagrams and explanations mean:

more photos of the Engineer for a Day program on Northwest Seaport's Flickr account

Despite this, I’m always a little nervous thinking about a big group of kids storming the boat. Once they arrive and we break them into three groups to cycle through the Arthur, the Duwamish, and the Virginia V, I usually calm down. They may be high schoolers, but they want to be there and are way smarter than I give them credit for — even if they play games and whisper and text message while they’re supposed to be listening. I had a great time leading them through the Arthur’s start-up and shut-down procedures, and both Grant and Gary say the same thing about their sections. I’m looking forward to doing as many of these as we can, and not just for Ballard Maritime Academy.

Inaugural Tugboat Night!
The week finally ended with OTM Inc helping run a new program with Northwest Seaport and the Center for Wooden Boats. Tugboat Night was designed to serve three different purposes: to provide a regular, low-cost program on the Arthur Foss, to exercise all of the tug’s equipment more often, and to get more people onboard and involved with the boat and the organizations.

On Saturday night, twelve people showed up for the program, all really excited. Several had never been onboard before, though they’d seen the tug at the dock. My original plan for the evening had been to lead all the participants through the boat starting in the engine room, turning on everything and then turning off everything. After running the auxiliary generator and the AC generator, though, we ended up getting distracted by the main engine and not going on to the steering equipment and other systems. Everyone loves watching the Washington Iron Works diesels, since they have so many exposed moving parts and ways to see into the engine. We played with the controls, trying to get the engine to idle as slow as possible before stalling, and I answered a lot of questions from both beginners and the professional electrical engineer who had run hydroelectric generators in Montana:

Tugboat Night at Northwest Seaport

This, however, is the great thing about Tugboat Night. Next time, we’ll do it differently; we could have other instructors up in the fo’c’sle or the wheelhouse while I stay in the engine room and let participants choose where they go, or we could spend less time on the pre-start checklists and just turn things on and off. We could have a “plumbing night” or a “wiring night” or a “steering and telegraph night,” as well as a “deck department” or an “engine department” night.

I’m really excited by the turn-out of this first session, since it shows that people are interested in learning about the gritty details of old boats. I think that it’s a great way to start building a volunteer engine crew for the Arthur, both to help keep up with maintenance and repair, and for in the future when the tug starts cruising again (though that’s barely on the horizon). I hope that see all the same people at the next Tugboat Night, plus more who hear about it from them.

NWS and the CWB have scheduled four more sessions of Tugboat Night, on April 19, June 21, August 16, and December 20. Depending on the popularity of the class, they may hold more this year, and they’re planning to hold one every month of 2009. Call the CWB at (206) 382-2628 to register now.

Finally, Tape versus No Tape: A Viewer Poll

Kirtland (a boat guy living aboard the Arthur Foss these days in a work-exchange arrangement with Northwest Seaport) and I had a “discussion” the other day about paint on boats. It went sort of like the Bud Light “great tastes” versus “less filling” commercials.

It is my philosophy that paint is an impermeable barrier that protects the ship from rot, rust, and other elemental damage. It is Kirtland’s philosophy that paint is a cosmetic that keeps the boat looking sharp and shipshape. Of course, what we actually said was something like “Next time, use tape, [censored]!” “You want tape? Beat me to it, [censored]!” and back and forth several times.

Now, I’m a big proponent of keeping the boats looking sharp so that the maritime groups have good “dock presence,” but before worrying about making them look good we should worry about keeping them protected from the rain and other agents of deterioration. If Kirtland wants to spend a lot of time fussing over masking and detailing and what should be painted green versus white, then that’s fine – as long as the boat is already protected.

Readers, what do you think? Paint as protective barrier or paint as a cosmetic detail? Please comment with your opinion.

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Filed under atlas-imperial, enterprise, museums, programs, washington iron works, week in review